From Primary To Tertiary, Here Is My Diary (Part 17)

From Primary To Tertiary, Here Is My Diary (Part 17)

February 24, 2024, NewsOrient
Books, Arts, Culture
By Dapo Thomas

As I picked the stone, I wasn’t sure what to do with it but the man helped me decide; he looked back and I couldn’t throw it at him again. Instead, I threw the stone back on the ground. I then “had a rapid dialogue with my two legs” (apologies WS) before there was any change in atmosphere.

As I entered my street, there was an excited crowd in front of my house. What could have caused this jubilation ? Definitely, people couldn’t have been jubilating over bad news.

So, I knew nothing had happened to Iya Ibadan. For as long as Iya Ibadan was alive, any other thing was immaterial to me. It was my mother who gave birth to a baby girl in her new place at Ramoni Street. I became excited too because I loved babies particularly those ones that would not disturb your sleep with too much “wen, wen.”

My grandmother, Iya Olojojo, who came down from Lawanson to break the news also hinted that arrangements were ongoing to bring a replacement for me so that I could go and assist my mother in Lawanson while the person or people coming would take care of iya Ibadan.

I was not happy with this arrangement but being the only son living in Surulere that could easily be mobolized to go and stay with her, I concurred . Taking care of iya Ibadan or my newly-born little sister was still a sign that one was developing a sense of responsibility.

The children’s play commonly referred to as “ere iya ati baba” was working in my life. Therefore, I was looking forward to the new challenge or stick with the extant responsibility.

If their plan to bring somebody from Offa or Alagomeji worked out that weekend, that meant that I should be on my way to Lawanson on Sunday. However, I didn’t want to go on Sunday because I had to watch my favourite TV show, Bonanza and my favourite actors, Michael Landon, Pernell Roberts, Dan Blocker, Lorne Greene.

I was happy when there was no sign of anybody coming from Alagomeji or Offa as at 7pm. I knew that I was going to watch my TV show. It would have to be in a neighbour’s house. As at that time, having a television in the house was a luxury and only few houses in the street were blessed with such luxury.

I knew the Adekojes, the Rajis, the Noibis were the first set of families to have black and white television in our street.

 When it was time for the film, children in the neighborhood had converged at Alhaji Raji's house to watch "Bonanza". Some children whose parents were very close to the Rajis were allowed into their living room, just few of them anyway.

Others, as usual, were to watch from outside via the louvered windows. I didn't know what delayed me but I came late despite my  "over-preparation". Immediately I came, they knew trouble had come. 

I squeezed my head amidst many bodies to create vantage space for myself  in the middle because I was not seeing anything from the back where I was standing. As I was about to raise my head, there was a body surge with people hitting the louvres and breaking them. I did not wait for the details of the crisis before  sprinting with reserved energy out of any  possible apprehension that night.  

I didn't bother to know if I was being pursued or not. The natural thing to do in such a crisis situation was to run for survival and protection first. It was also normal to run as if you were being pursued .  That was exactly what I did. I seized the opportunity to do my own heat with no competitor by my side. 

 Remember I said we were preparing for the school inter-house sports.In less than eight minutes, I was at Yaba bus stop breathing like a marathoner. The time was almost 10pm yet, the throng was still trudging. I kept walking up and down Yaba as if I was truly an abiku. I had to run beyond their reach because of what Alhaji Raji  used to tell us about breaking the louvres. 

He had warned us several times that if we broke his louvres, he would use the broken louvres to do incisions for us. Having suffered  barbarous  incisions in  instalments   in the past in the hands of Alfa Ligali and Alhaji Raji himself,   if I still wanted to look like a human being , I should run away otherwise I stood the chance of being decorated with incisions all over my body like "Egun ofala". As at that time, I had made up my mind to sleep outside. 

Though I had never done it before, Late-tua and some of my friends in the area and in the school, who had done it before, said it was good to experience it for you to be a complete "Omo''ta".

At that time, there were some broken down LMTS (Lagos Municipal Transport Service) buses at Yaba. I looked for one that was very comfortable and free of cobwebs as some of them had gathered sufficient cobwebs to hide a fleeing runaway like me.

There were other abandoned vehicles at the Yaba park but it was safer for me to sleep in any of the LMTS buses because I knew that my father was a “big man” in the government transport outfit. Should there be any midnight raid of hoodlums, touts and destitutes, my father could easily secure my release.

I preferred being whipped with “koboko” than for my face and head to undergo a new set of punitive incisions. I really enjoyed my sleep that night. It was so cool that I felt like sleeping there every night and become a thorough bred “Omo’ta”.

Having been a serial beneficiary of so many “on- trial packages” in my primary school, I had already ruled myself out of any further gracious elevation in my future educational pursuit. I reasoned that I was not likely Ito enjoy any infinite favour or grace from GOD knowing that I had exhausted my own portion in my primary school.

It would be selfish on my part to monopolize the grace list for eleven years (6 years in primary school, 5 years in secondary school) when I was not the only one seeking unmerited promotions from GOD. Therefore, being a superlative “Omo’ta” was one of my ambitions after my first school leaving certificate.

  As early as 5am, I had started seeing people moving around the park. Some had come to resume work, some had come to queue for the LMTS buses, those operating food canteens had come to prepare food for early morning workers.  

Some of the hoodlums and destitutes had quick showers in the open before it was day time.  The "Mai tea" at the park selling tea, bread and eggs did not even sleep. Each time I opened my eyes in the middle of the night, I saw them doing one thing or the other or even attending to one or two customers whose identity couldn't be confirmed in the dark. 

Though there was no pressure for me to leave the bus and go home or go somewhere else, I felt it was time for me to go back home. I therefore decided to start a very complicated  journey back to my house knowing that Iya Ibadan would be worried about my whereabouts. 

Being a Monday, I was supposed to be in school. Would Alhaji Raji still be looking for me for breaking his louvres? Would I be the only one to be blamed for breaking  the louvres?

 Would Alhaji Raji have the time on a Monday morning to go on with his incision threat? 

I was pondering over some of these questions when one man came to ask me if I could do conductor for his danfo from Yaba to Àgùdà. He didn’t even wait for my response when he handed me a chewing stick and a cup of water shouting and bellowing in Yoruba: “

Tete fo eyin e ko je ká lo” meaning “Quickly brush your mouth and follow me.”


Dr Dapo Thomas’ From Primary To Tertiary Here Is My Diary Is Serialized Here Weekly Every Saturday

~ NewsOrient